COVID-19 has challenged us all to be flexible and adaptable at an amazing rate of speed. Business forecasts that looked strong and growing two months ago have cratered, workloads that were off the charts suddenly disappeared, everyone has had to connect electronically, and a simple handshake is no longer a viable way to greet a colleague or seal a deal. It’s easy to slide into anxiety and be paralyzed by uncertainty, but how we frame this moment in time is a powerful lever to our mental health and productivity. Leaders have always had to be masters at framing their thinking and the thinking of others, but with the coronavirus pandemic, the demand for that capability grew. What’s a Frame? Frames are the boundaries, interpretations and simplifications that we make mentally to understand a situation. We create them instinctively as a result of our experience and the data we take in, and they are particularly valuable in ambiguous or complex situations. We have both reactive frames, which shaped by our emotional responses, as well as proactive frames, which are shaped by logical thought. These mental filters not only help us make sense of a situation but also influence the range of actions we consider. As a result, our frame can be self-reinforcing, which is the powerful insight behind Chris Argyris’ “Ladder of Inference.” Frames are an integral part of processing information and making sense of a situation for ourselves. They are also a valuable tool to help leaders convey information to others.
Say what you will about the current crisis, it is clearly a crucible time for leaders. Not all leadership moments are created equal, and this one is huge. For most of us there has not been a more important time in our leadership lives. This is both good and bad news: it means the consequences of your leadership now will most likely have outsized impact in the future. How we each behave as leaders in these moments of fear and uncertainty, when our most basic human instincts crowd in, will be remembered long after the crisis is past. Like it or not, this will be part of your leadership legacy, so consider carefully the choices you make.
The last several days have been a whipsaw of adjustment for leaders and teams in organizations around the globe. The coronavirus pandemic has gone from casual remarks in pre-meeting chit-chat to disruption of supply chains, travel plans, work locations, childcare, and personal security in a blink of an eye.
We are living through a case study of crisis management for leaders. The coronavirus may have limited or may have significant impact on your business, but in either case, it’s taking major mindshare for employees and creating anxiety in organizations around the globe. Insight Experience teaches leaders how to communicate effectively. Normally we’re focused on accelerating business results or aligning complicated organizations or helping engage employees to deliver on a vision. We see and learn from the leaders we work with all year long about how challenging effective communication is even in the simplest of settings. An unprecedented, unknown concern like coronavirus makes communication that is heard and helpful even more difficult to achieve.
How to Keep your Leadership Healthy Through the Coronavirus Crisis The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is top of mind for everyone. While our first priorities are the health and safety of our employees and their families, we also need to manage the business impact. Travel bans and cost containment strategies are putting pressure on critical business activities, including employee development. Ironically this type of disruption can delay training programs at a time when employees and leaders need them most. The recent infectious outbreak only enhances the VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous) nature of our work. Navigating the delicate balancing act of business as usual with crisis management will be far easier for leaders who can:
Leadership development is a big investment for any organization — one that’s only worthwhile if there is a substantial return. As a result, many organizations strive to measure learning lift and ROI from the programs they run, with emphasis placed on measuring new skills and insights.
Customized leadership development inherently has a higher impact on leaders and organizational results. Since tailored learning can be closely connected to the challenges a business faces or the environment in which it operates, leaders can see the value of putting a leadership program’s ideas into practice. Customization can help participants see “what’s in it for them” more clearly, as well as help the organization build a common understanding of “what it means to lead here.”